A medical student shares their experience of taking MMIs at different universities. They give you tips to answer common MMI question types, provide examples of MMI questions and guide you through a quality exemplar response and share useful general MMI tips.
In this article, they’ll discuss:
One of the most common personal insight questions is “why do you want to study medicine?”
Many students will say that they want to help people and that they’re interested in healthcare. However, the follow-up question that throws most students off-track is:
“Why medicine and not nursing?“
Ensure that you give some thought about this question before your MMIs as it can be very poorly answered by students. You need to really dig into what it is you want to achieve by studying medicine and think about how to best explain that to the panel or interviewer.
Interview-type questions are also popular in personal insight MMIs. Here are some examples:
It’s important that you don’t neglect these types of questions because they are crucial at demonstrating your suitability for the medical field.
(If you want to read more about Personal Insight MMI questions, take a read of our How to Ace MMI Personal Insight Questions.)
If you’ve been invited to the MMI, that means that you’ve already demonstrated your academic abilities.
So, personal insight MMI question to examine your good qualities.
This includes goal-setting, self-awareness, ability to communicate and reflect, resilience, and development.
The UCAT Mock Exam Day is a UCAT Trial exam that simulates the real thing and ranks you against participants from around the globe. Learn more.
Some Universities ask more scenario-based questions, rather than personal insight questions.
These are questions where the interviewer gives you a scenario, and you have to tell them what you would do in that particular situation.
Scenario based questions examine your thought process and insight.
Often, there is a piece of paper on the table with a prompt and a question. Some Universities will get you to respond to the question straight away, and others will give you a 2 minute reading time.
Once you’ve answered the question, the examiner will continue to ask you follow up questions until time for that station is up. However, don’t stress if you don’t finish or get through all the prompt questions.
(We’ve discussed the most common MMI scenarios in our “6 Common MMI Scenarios and How to Ace Them” article.)
The purpose of Scenario-Based MMIs is to mainly examine your thought process and human traits.
This means there is no right or wrong answer, especially for opinion questions where you can adopt differing positions.
Instead, you should focus on vocalising your thought process to demonstrate your human skills and traits. You want to show that you are able to make a final decision, even in undesirable conditions.
Remember, working in the medical field is stressful, demanding and requires you to deal with a variety of different people.
As such, it is important that you demonstrate:
This shows the interviewers that you’re a suitable candidate to work in the medical field.
Now, I’ll show you two scenario-based questions and provide you with some tips to answer them. This was like my interview, my interviewer also asked me some follow-up personal insight questions.
As such, it’s important that you are comfortable with and have prepared for a variety of different MMI question types.
Your friend has recently had a baby and they are worried about vaccinating their child as they have heard that the MMR vaccine has been linked to increased cases of autism. When they expressed their concerns to their GP, their GP laughed at them. They feel very upset about the encounter and have come to you for support. What would you tell your friend?
It is crucial that you do not automatically jump to conclusions and say, “But it’s so obvious vaccines are good!”.
This is a poor response because it doesn’t show your critical thought process or your empathy.
A strong response firstly acknowledges the friend’s concerns, that they care about their child, and are coming from a place of care.
You should then ask why your friend has this opinion and discuss it.
Attempt to recognise that whilst some individuals have adverse reactions to vaccines, the majority do not, and also provide recommendations on places your friend can obtain more information to make an informed decision. For example, see another GP.
It is also important that you recognise that the GP’s reaction was inappropriate.
Some common follow up questions you may be asked are:
As you can see from the examples, these questions can range from ethical scenarios to data scenarios to critical thinking.
These follow up questions provide you with the opportunity to reflect on the issue and acknowledge that they exist because they’re multifaceted and complicated.
When you are answering these questions, it is crucial that you are speaking through your thought process and recognise both sides of the situation.
(Note: For the last question ‘should parents be forced to vaccinate their kids‘ there are no right answers, you’re dealing with a question of personal politics and not epidemiology. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about whether the right answer is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, but instead choose a side that personally resonates with you and explain your reasoning.)
“You’re a junior doctor. One night, a tree falls on your house, just centimetres from your bed. You turn up to work the next day feeling a bit unsettled. You notice that your performance is not as good as it usually is and you realise that you’re actually quite shaken up about last night’s events. Your fellow colleague finds the situation to be quite hilarious and tells you to get over it and that it’s not a big deal because you weren’t injured. What would you do?”
You can see again this scenario is completely hypothetical and almost ridiculous. However, interviewers can glean lots of insight into how a student thinks and behaves from how they respond.
For these types of questions, you shouldn’t focus on answering the question straight away. For example, don’t launch straight into what you would’ve done..
Instead, you should first recognise that there is a distinction between mental and physical health and discuss why your friend may have made that comment
After that, you can finally discuss your course of actions.
For these type of questions, it is very important that you identify that you have a duty of care to your patients. This means that if you don’t feel like you’re performing your role to the best of your ability, then you are putting your patients at risk.
This is also a chance to demonstrate that you are able to recognise when you are struggling and are able to ask for help.
Burnout is a huge problem in the medical field and examiners want to find candidates who are able to ask for help when they need it.
Interviewers ask this personal insight question to examine how you reflect on your situation and recognise when you are stressed.
This is also your chance to demonstrate that you know how to manage stress in a healthy way.
Here are some tips that you need to keep in mind when you are preparing for and doing your MMIs.
The principles of medical ethics are values that govern interactions between medical professionals and their patients.
You should use these principles as guides to making a decision for ethical questions, especially the more challenging one. Aim to always work between these parameters.
However, remember, not all 4 principles can be met for different ethical scenarios.
Also, it’s crucial that you don’t name drop these principles. Don’t say “maleficence” or “non-beneficence” in your interviews or the interviewer will know that you’ve been coached and will not take your response favourably.
So, let’s go into detail about the 4 principles of medical ethics.
As a medical professional, you must respect your patients right to autonomy.
This means that you recognise that the patient is entitled to make their own decisions.
You do not harm or allow no harm to reach a patient due to neglect.
This means that you need to ensure that your patient is informed and that you do everything you can to ensure a positive outcome.
Maleficence refers to your moral obligation to act for the benefit of others.
This means that you must always do what is good for the patient.
However, you also need to remember that all patients are different from one another. This means that what’s ‘good for the patient’ is dependent on the individual and should be considered on a case by case basis.
The final principle refers to fairness. You should always aim to be as fair as possible when making decisions.
This is especially important for situations like allocating resources in a medical context. i.e. How the medical budget should be spent, which patients should be entitled to treatment etc.
Ensure that you are able to provide reasons for your choices and justify it.
The most important thing to remember when you are answering MMI questions is that you should never jump straight to the answer.
Always take your time to set up your response and provide context for your answer.
However, this is doesn’t mean that you should repeat the scenario! Simply repeating the scenario is a waste of time and doesn’t add to your response.
Instead, you should discuss different possibilities or outcomes, acknowledge different aspects of the situation, recognise other’s feelings and thoughts etc.
Also, it’s important that you don’t rely on a strict structure for your MMI responses. The key aspect of an MMI is to test your ability to communicate. So, keep your MMI responses conversational and natural.
Many students go out of their way to buy a suit to look professional on the day.
However, if you turn up in a suit and are looking extremely uncomfortable, that is not good look.
This is because you want to come off as confident so that your responses are much more convincing and solid.
So, it is better if you wear an outfit that is smart and professional AND is comfortable.
For example, a male candidate can wear a button-up shirt and trousers, but not the blazer or a female can wear a neat looking dress or a blouse with pants.
Practising your MMI responses is the best way to improve. A good method of doing this is to record yourself answering questions and watching it back.
We know, this might seem awkward but it is extremely useful for assessing your body language and mannerisms.
You are able to identify any quirky mannerisms you do when you’re nervous, like exaggerated hand gestures or clenching fists.
It is also useful as picking up speech mannerisms like excessively saying ‘um’.
Attempt to fix these mannerisms so that you present yourself confidently.
Practising different questions by yourself is a good way to improve. However, it is not enough. You want to simulate the MMI experience.
You also need to practise answering questions with different people to gain a wider perspective on different situations and issues.
When you broaden your perspectives, you learn to empathise with more people and make more informed decisions. This is extremely helpful at demonstrating your human qualities and traits.
Furthermore, talking to different people allows you to learn about their way of thinking. This can help you shape and refine your way of thinking by borrowing or drawing inspiration from it.
So, practise with your parents, friends, teachers, grandparents, a family friend in the medical field etc.
It’s also a good idea to practise with someone who can make you feel a little stressed… like your strict dad or people you don’t know well. This will help you refine your stress management skills for the actual MMI day!
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